Crab Orchard Elementary was filled with laughter and excited voices Friday afternoon. But it wasn’t the upcoming fall break that had lifted the spirits of students and staff. They were moving into their new school.

“We gave them a tour of the building yesterday,” Principal Debbie Beaty said. “They were so excited to see the gym and the cafeteria with all the windows.”

Some students asked if they could stay at Crab Orchard next year instead of going to the high school. They loved the water fountains with cold water and bottle fillers. 

“Some of the commits were, ‘It’s beautiful,’ “This is the best day of my life,’” Beaty said. “A fourth-grade student cried and asked his classmate, ‘Did you cry, too?’ Her response was, ‘Yes.’”

The new portion was officially turned over to the school Thursday when the state fire marshal issued a certificate of occupancy and Upland Design issued a certificate of substantial completion. 

Kim Chamberlin with Upland Design told the Cumberland County Board of Education Sept. 26 the firm had completed its interior review of the facility and contractor Wilson Construction of Athens, TN, was working to address those items.

“Everything is in good shape,” Chamberlin said. He added Wilson Construction’s work “continues to be well above what we normally see on projects. We’re very pleased with what’s there.”

The students gave the building superintendent a round of applause when he was introduced during the students’ tour. 

The Crab Orchard faculty and staff will complete their move over fall break and students will start the second portion of the semester in their new classrooms beginning Oct. 14.

This will require some changes in how parents drop off and pick up their children from the school.

The Hwy. 70 entrance to the campus will be closed starting Oct. 14 for demolition of the original 1972 school building. The 2001 addition remains.

The new school entrance will be off Main St. in Crab Orchard. This will lead drivers to two parking lots. Bus drop off lanes and pre-K drop off will be in the lot in front of the library — look for the row of windows.

Parent drop-off lanes for kindergarten through eighth-grade will be in the second parking lot in front of the new gym — on the other side of the main entrance sidewalk.

Parents who plan on walking their students into the school during morning drop off will need to enter through the office and an office employee will take the student to their designated area.

Beaty said the school will have two weeks to remove everything from the old building. That includes any doors or other fixtures the school system can salvage for other projects.

Crab Orchard Elementary invites the community to come bid the old school farewell Oct. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. Former students can walk the pods. 

The event will also help the school raise funds for some needs they’ll have in their new building. They will let people paint a block in the walls for $5. Bleachers will be sold with prices starting at $50 and pieces of the gym floor starting at $20. 

Sealed bids will be taken for the championship banners, 2018-’19 team banners and the pull up bar. 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at

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